The Southern Ocean and the millions of animals that call it home were dealt a setback in July when Russia blocked the adoption of two proposed marine protected areas in waters off Antarctica. The MPAs — one in the Ross Sea and several off East Antarctica — were backed by the United States, New Zealand, Australia, France and the European Union in an effort to protect fragile Southern Ocean ecosystems. The reserves would have established fishing bans and set aside regions as reference areas for scientists studying the impact of climate change on the region. Twenty-four nations and the EU are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and had called a special meeting specifically to consider the proposals. Russia balked, questioning CCAMLR’s legal authority to designate MPAs. The CCAMLR’s next chance to create the MPAs is at its annual meeting in late October.
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